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ASICS Gel-Cumulus 20 Review

A highly supportive but somewhat uncomfortable contender in the fleet
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Price:  $120 List | $99.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Supportive, responsive
Cons:  Narrow, uncomfortable
Manufacturer:   Asics
By Lauren DeLaunay ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 14, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Landing Comfort - 25% 6
  • Upper Comfort - 25% 5
  • Responsiveness - 20% 6
  • Stability - 20% 8
  • Weight - 10% 7

Our Verdict

One of the features we look for to identify a significant running shoe is the ability to forget we even have it on. The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 20 did not allow this, thanks to its narrow toe box and firm padding. Despite decent landing comfort and responsiveness, we couldn't get over the uncomfortable upper, leaving this shoe with one of the lowest scores in our review.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The stiff, tight upper of the GEL-Cumulus 20 created an uncomfortable ride, and at the end of the day, we just wouldn't recommend this shoe over its many superior competitors.

As the GEL-Cumulus 20 fell to the bottom of our charts, it is readily apparent why it did not go home with one of our coveted awards.

Strutting in style with the Asics Gel-Cumulus
Strutting in style with the Asics Gel-Cumulus

Landing Comfort


The GEL-Cumulus has a moderate amount of cushioning that put it in the running for the best all-around road running shoe. However, the padding wasn't anything to write home about, and we awarded it a very average score in this metric.

This shoe is similarly padded to the three Brooks models we tried, as well as the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante. We ultimately awarded it the same average score as the Altra Escalante for a decent yet inferior performance. The exterior was stiffer than in some of our favorite models, which is likely due to its significantly heavier weight, which we will discuss more below. We can't deny the impact this had on our running comfort, however, and we much appreciated lighter models like the Brooks Adrenaline that created a cloud-like step.

A close-up look of the Gel-Cumulus' plush heel
A close-up look of the Gel-Cumulus' plush heel

Responsiveness


While ASICS suggests that the GEL-Cumulus is designed to be highly responsive, we just couldn't agree; this may be due in part to its weight, and while it was bouncier than the Altra Escalante, it was still less so than our favorite Brooks models, the Adrenaline and Ghost. This shoe provides a decent amount of responsiveness, and we were surprised at how bouncy we felt for the amount of cushioning underfoot. Compared to the mega-comfy HOKA Bondi, whose cushioning entirely compromises its responsiveness, the GEL-Cumulus does a much better job at finding the middle ground, though it is still not our favorite.

Testing the bounciness of the Gel-Cumulus on Yosemite's great running paths
Testing the bounciness of the Gel-Cumulus on Yosemite's great running paths

Upper Comfort


Our reviewers might have been more likely to recommend this shoe to the average buyer if it were not for this category. We were immediately dismayed by the narrow fit and stiff padding, which earned the GEL-Cumulus one of the lower scores in this review.

The Gel-Cumulus has a relatively comfy upper but a narrow fit.
The Gel-Cumulus has a relatively comfy upper but a narrow fit.

In our testing, the GEL-Cumulus was less breathable than some of its competitors, as well as less cushioned. The tongue, heel, and sides are fitted with stiff padding that is significantly less cozy that the plush designs of the Brooks Ghost or Adrenaline. The lack of cushioning, when combined with an incredibly narrow toe, create an uncomfortable fit that we noticed immediately.

Stability


Despite being less comfortable, the GEL-Cumulus does have a lot of support. The thick overlay at the midfoot helps guide the foot into the proper step, leaving us feeling secure and supported.

When compared to the lack of support in the Escalante or HOKA Bondi, the GEL-Cumulus feels very snug. We appreciated the way the shoe's outer is reinforced, but we did wish for a bit more flexibility in the forefoot. This is one of the more supportive shoes in this review which, if particularly important to you, may help you overlook some of its lesser characteristics.

The Gel-Cumulus is one of the more supportive shoes we tested.
The Gel-Cumulus is one of the more supportive shoes we tested.

Weight


Generally speaking, weight is less important than the other metrics in our test. It's hard to deny, however, how heavy the GEL-Cumulus is when compared to some of our favorite shoes, and we couldn't help but dock points. At 8.4 ounces per shoe, the GEL-Cumulus is on the heavier side. The majority of shoes we tested fell in the eight-ounce range, like the HOKA Clifton (8.4 ounces) and the Brooks Ghost (8.8 ounces). We would be happy to overlook the weight if the shoe had incredible performance in another category. However, the GEL-Cumulus' weight is just one more reason we didn't favor this shoe.

Best Applications


Budget-friendly and supportive, the GEL-Cumulus could be a good buy for shoppers with narrow feet who tend to over-pronate. However, its lack of comfort makes it a poor purchase for the average runner who, for the same price, would likely be happier in a more cushioned shoe like the Brooks Ghost.

The Gel-Cumulus is a good choice for Yosemite's well-groomed pathways.
The Gel-Cumulus is a good choice for Yosemite's well-groomed pathways.

Value


Ringing in at $120, the GEL-Cumulus is smack in the middle of this review's price range. Unfortunately, it was a much lower scorer, making it difficult to justify buying when the Editors' Choice Award-winning Brooks Adrenaline costs the same amount.

Conclusion


The ASICS GEL-Cumulus is a popular shoe that seems to have narrowed in its latest iteration. We reviewed the previous version of last year's running shoes review and found nearly the same results: despite a supportive, stable construction, the upper was uncomfortable, and the landing was mediocre.

The Gel-Cumulus 20
The Gel-Cumulus 20

Lauren DeLaunay